How much is “enough”?

Yesterday my husband and I were reviewing the Christmas gifts we’ve gotten for our son.  In the past we’ve gotten him one “big” gift and a few smaller gifts.  This year there really isn’t a “big” gift, but there are a few smaller things he’s really been wanting.  As we were checking the last item off the list I said, “Is it enough?”.  We came to the conclusion that yes, it is.  In the back of my mind I continued questioning for a little while.  That was, until this afternoon.

Today I had lunch with my mom.  My mom is retired from her full-time job and now spends much of her time helping elementary school students learn to read as a tutor in one of the public schools.  This afternoon, at our lunch, she was talking about some of the children she tutors, telling stories about some of the successes and some of the struggles.  At one point she started talking about a little girl who had a really hard time focusing and was getting to the point of being nasty with her instead of reading.  Finally, my mom closed the book and asked the little girl how she was doing, what was going on with her.  The little girl confessed she was hungry.  My mom asked if she’d had breakfast before school.  She had not.  She asked her why she hadn’t eaten.  The little girl started to answer, then stopped herself.  After talking to the little girl’s teacher, she was brought down to the school nurse where she was given breakfast.  This bothered me.  Does this really happen?  I tried to recall whether there has ever been a day that my son hadn’t had something to eat before school.  Even though he has had a couple of breakfasts as he was flying out the door to catch the bus, he has never gone to school hungry.  It must have been evident by the look on my face that I was concerned about what I was hearing and questioning how this could happen, because my mom started to explain that a large percentage of kids in the school eat at school because they literally don’t have anything to eat at home.

She went on to tell me that many of these kids can’t go outside for recess either because they don’t have warm coats or snow pants or boots.  She struggles to help them with reading because many of these kids don’t have books to read at home. My heart ached.  She continued to tell stories about kids living in broken homes, parents being evicted so they are forced to move to a different community and start a new school in the middle of the school year and her concern that other schools will lose these kids in the system if the school program isn’t set-up as well as the one she’s in.  Would their records go with them?  Will they help them? Or will these kids she’s been working so hard to help learn to read, slip through the cracks?

It’s not right.  It’s not their choice.  These kids don’t have a choice as to where they came from, who their parents are, whether they have a good home, clean clothes, a coat and boots, books to read or food on the table.  These kids, some of whom are the sweetest my mom has ever worked with, have nothing and it’s not their choice.  It’s not their fault.  They’re just kids.

As my mind raced, trying to figure out what I could do to help, my mom began to tell me about a coat rack in the hallway of the school.  Early on she couldn’t figure out why it was there.  Then she realized that the coat rack is for these kids.  The kids without.  These are coats, snow pant, boots, etc. that have been donated to the school so these kids stay warm.  That’s when I realized there is something I can do.  I can donate to the school.  I can give coats and snow pants and hats and maybe even boots and definitely books.  I could make mittens.  I’m making recycled sweater mittens, maybe I could give some to the school.

And then I thought back to the conversation yesterday.   Will my son be getting “enough” for Christmas?  He has a warm home, warm clothes, a warm coat, hats, mittens, boots, snow pants, books, games and food on the table.  Yes, he’s getting enough.  More than enough.

Kate

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One Comment to “How much is “enough”?”

  1. Heart-breaker. Thank you. When I have perspective, I know it. When I don’t have perspective, I don’t know it. As of right now, I know it.

    Like

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